Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Letting Go

I am glad to be writing tonight. It has been five months since my mother died.  I have been in grief counseling through Hospice and it has been very helpful in being with the experiences  of sadness and disorientation and the search for new meaning in my life that are part of my grief.
I was with my mother when she died. My experience was one of awe. It was so clear to me that she was not her body. Her body was the shell left behind when her spirit was ready to depart. During the decade of the decline of my mother's mind I watched her check out little by little until she was barely communicative. Sometimes she could speak a word or two and her eyes were still very expressive.Yet she was a very different version of the smart, strong-willed, sometimes critical, sometimes supportive, person she was before dementia. I missed who she was and also was relieved to be less afraid of her because she gained sweetness as she declined.  I have spent the last five months processing what she meant to me and how our relationship has impacted my life. I am emerging as person who is less dependant on external validation and more trusting of my own truth. I am more in touch and connected with my little girl inside and my spiritual support. I am more open to asking for help from and  listening to spiritual guidance.
Being a part of my mother's death was like watching her free herself from the confines of her physical body. Her spirit expanded as she left and filled the room. I was aware of both the eternal nature of the spirit and the impermanence of life. It was so clear to me when my mother died that we are here for a short time and then we shed our bodies and move on to what's next. After my mother's memorial service my daughter and I left for a camping trip. Our intention was to honor ourselves and my mother in nature. Praying and walking and singing and soaking I took in on a deeper level how unhappy I was in my relationship of eight years. With the distraction of my busyness gone I could face how I yearned to let go of all the years of trying to make my relationship work. During my relationship with my partner, when I would go deep inside and ask what I should do the answer was , love him with all of your heart. I know that meant accept him for who he is and stop trying to change him into who you want him to be. That was my part of our relationship dance. I had been moving toward that acceptance in the months before my mother died. I had gotten to the place where I really accepted my partner for who he was and loved him for who he was. When I listened to my inner guidance I would now hear , love him with all of your heart and let him go. He was unhappy too. We would go back and forth from being willing to let go  of each other because we both knew being partners was no longer the right relationship for us, to clinging to what we had and convincing ourselves that it was good enough. We would each angrily threaten the bond saying we were going to leave and then plead with the person wanting to leave to stay. Our spiritual connection was strong and had been the glue that held us together.We were both scared to let that go fearing neither of us would ever find that again. We were both afraid to be alone. We had been in couples counseling with two different skillful counselors.  After our sessions we often felt connected and close for a time and then would be back butting up against some fundamental differences. I think we both knew on some level it was too painful to continue and too scary to let go. We separated a week after my Mom died. It took great courage to let each other go. I know it was so painful for both of us. I hope some day to be able to  ritualize the completion of our partnership and to recreate our friendship. We were able to be mostly respectful  and kind about separating and I am so grateful for that. It was very scary and very sad. Letting go of my partner and my mother and facing my fear and sadness has been difficult and very healing. It is scary for me to be alone and yet I am getting stronger as I learn more deeply to look within for my strength. It is so challenging to reach out for support with my friends. It is easier to isolate myself. I am fortunate to have some very good friends. I feel blessed. I embrace this era of my life with all the challenges and joy it brings. I am finding contentment within myself and facing my lonliness  mostly without running away. Meditation and yoga have been lifeboats to help keep me afloat in these turbulent and ever-changing waters. I cry a lot and am laughing more. I think they go together. In the midst of it all, I am grateful for my rich full life. I have work I love and a new grandson. Death and new life. When one door closes, or several doors, space is created for the next door to open. 
Thanks for listening and for giving me the space in your life to share  my journey with you. I am wondering what your lifeboats are that help you to navigate the choppy and smooth waters of your life?